Graham wiggles away from any near-term climate or energy bills

Well that just about does it for climate legislation. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tells CongressDaily (subscription. req’d) that he’ll vote against the climate bill being developed by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.):

“What I have withdrawn from is a bill that basically restricts drilling in a way that is never going to happen in the future,” Graham said. “I wanted it to safely occur in the future; I don’t want to take it off the table.”

Lest your memory be as short as Graham’s, this is the bill that Graham helped write. He, Kerry and Lieberman drafted it together, but Graham pulled out at the last second to protest Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) prioritization of immigration reform. Environmental advocates hoped that he’d still vote for the eventual bill, even if he wasn’t present for the rollout. But then the Gulf of Mexico oil spill hit, and Kerry and Lieberman decided to give states some control over whether drilling happened near their shores. Apparently that was too much for Graham.

At least he has a counterproposal:

Graham said his advice to lawmakers is to “start over and scale down your ambitions.” This includes allowing electric utilities more time to meet their emission reduction targets and completely removing energy-intensive manufacturers and other industries from a carbon control plan. The technology does not yet exist for them to be able to capture and store carbon emissions, he argued.

Well, a scaled-back energy bill does exist, in the form of the bipartisan proposal by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) that’s given environmentalists fits over its weak targets, and that might serve as the foundation for Kerry and Lieberman’s bill to be offered as an amendment. But apparently the Bingaman bill is no good for Graham either:

Graham also said he would vote against an energy bill approved with bipartisan support last year on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Democratic leaders have suggested that measure may be the starting focal point of energy legislation on the floor this summer. But Graham said the plan’s renewable energy production mandate is too low and does not go far enough in promoting nuclear and biomass energy.

He said he will offer up later this year a “hodgepodge of ideas out there that I think form a potential pathway forward.”

Ah yes, the hodgepodge of ideas that will save the planet. It seems pretty clear at this point that Graham has been looking for a way out of his support for climate legislation for some time; now, he’s found it.

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